Beer, bratwurst and fancy dress fun: 7 cities in Germany going big for Oktoberfest

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A quintessential celebration of Bavarian culture, Oktoberfest (which, despite the name, actually gets underway mid-September for several weeks) remains Germany’s biggest tourist draw, with the world-famous festival seeming to get bigger, better and more outrageous every year.

Buzzing beer tents and gigantic steins, bratwurst sausages, dirndl dresses, lederhosen, and a general air of good-time debauchery pull in millions of people from all over the world annually - in fact, more than 20,000 of these seasonal visitors flew to Munich from Manchester Airport last year alone.

Direct flights from Manchester Airport to Germany

However, it’s not just the Bavarian capital that gets stuck into the festivities - the whole country comes to life for Oktoberfest. We've rounded up 7 cities in Germany offering the most rip-roaring Oktoberfest celebrations, with direct flights from Manchester Airport:

1. Munich

As the city where Oktoberfest originates, and the largest city in Bavaria, Munich is the ultimate destination for those wanting to experience the biggest and best of Oktoberfest - and in Munich alone, a whopping 5.5 million litres of beer will be consumed throughout the Oktoberfest celebrations!

The main event takes place on the Theresienwiese - the large field where the first Oktoberfest took place more than 200 years ago. After the Lord Mayor of Munich taps the first keg and shouts “O’zapft is!” (It’s tapped!”), Oktoberfest gets underway. There are 14 major beer tents, run by both mainstream and independent breweries, and multiple smaller tents with their own food or drink theme (such as a dumpling tent or a cheese tent), as well as fairground attractions and outlandish shows, running until around midnight each day.

2. Hamburg

Despite being located some 800km from Munich, Hamburg offers plenty of Oktoberfest action. One of the most popular events is held at the Hamburger DOM - a big fairground by the Elbe river. Come September the DOM funfair begins trading in all sorts of autumn delights, such as roasted almonds, soft doughy pretzels, shiny toffee apples and weisswurst sausages.

The city’s also home to lots of Bavarian-style bars and beer gardens. Try Factory Hasselbrook in Eilbek and admire the uber-cool style of this former railway station, or grab a drink at Aalhaus - a versatile venue that manages to be everything from a traditional sports bar to a live music club, to the host of rowdy pub quizzes.

3. Düsseldorf

The Rhenish Oktoberfest on the banks of the Düsseldorf Rhine has a reputation for its enormous energy and wild party spirit. Every year almost 30,000 visitors celebrate at this huge Rhineland festival at the Rennbahn Park in Neuss, where the stage is packed with poptastic stars putting on lively shows and getting the crowd to dance and sing along - yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but that’s all part of the fun.

Alongside the entertainment and endless beer you’ll also find lots of food and drinks vendors trading on Bavaria’s traditional cosy vibe and comforting dishes, so you can hunker down and tuck into a menu of Leberkäs or bratwurst with purée and sauerkraut, currywurst with crusty bread, roast pork rolls with fried onions, and fresh pretzels with bacon and cheese.

4. Berlin

Berlin goes big for Oktoberfest. For 6 weeks you can experience Bavarian culture at the Spreewiesn party tent at Postbahnhof, just by Ostbahnhof Station, where you’ll hear the traditional Bavarian band playing and smell the street food as soon as you step off the train. The crowds dress up in Dirndl and Lederhosen, and can munch on roast pork knuckles, half roast chickens, pretzels and other traditional delicacies.

Or head to Spandau Oktoberfest, which takes place every year at the Spandau Citadel - a striking fortress, and one of the best-preserved military structures in Europe. The large marquee with 2,000+ seats opens on Fridays and Saturdays, with a non-stop stage program that includes music from the original Oktoberfest band Andreas Autengruber and the Enzianer. Enjoy traditional Bavarian dishes such as pork knuckles, white sausages, liver dumpling soup, apple strudel and Kaiserschmarrn - a delicious fluffy shredded pancake.

5. Frankfurt

This year it’s held at the Waldstadion (a retractable roof sports stadium, currently known as the Deutsche Bank Park for sponsorship), Frankfurt Oktoberfest encapsulates the essence of the Munich beer festival, pulling in a crowd of over 60,000 at its 4-week celebration. Expect lots of live music, with famous bands playing the main stage, and an abundance of local beers.

Of course, being in Frankfurt you can also expect the festival to celebrate the city’s most famous food - the frankfurter. You’ll find multiple stalls selling this traditional German smoked sausage, typically served hot dog-style in a bread roll with ketchup, mustard or horseradish, but often with potato salad here, too.

6. Freiburg

You know you can expect serious Oktoberfest celebrations when they’re held in a brewery. In Freiburg, Ganter Brewery puts on an incredible display of Bavarian fun, with people dancing on the benches and tables to live music in its festival tent. Almost everyone dresses in lederhosen or dirndl, so go in costume if you don’t want to feel left out. Naturally, it’s mainly about the beer, but there’s also a champagne and wine lounge, and you can book VIP tables if you’re going with a big crowd and want to guarantee good seats.

7. Cologne

A lively city on the Rhine River, Cologne has a reputation for its nightlife, and has long drawn in crowds of people who want to party into the early hours - so it’s no surprise that this city is going to wholeheartedly embrace Oktoberfest. And even though the first Cologne Oktoberfest was only held in 2004, it’s now one of the most popular in the country.

The Cologne Oktoberfest festival takes place in one enormous 3,000sq-metre tent, where the beer never stops flowing and the mood is pumping, as Cologne-based bands share the stage with original Limbachtal musicians. It’s paid entry, but you’ll have the time of your life for around €30.

Find out more about direct flights from Manchester Airport to Germany and start planning your Oktoberfest trip today.

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